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» OFI: SEC Surprises

In an opening week where even the elite teams in college football looked mortal, the SEC had two big surprises in Texas A&M and Georgia defeating their South Carolinian opponents by big scores.

09 Dec 2009

Cover-3: A Man Named Suh

by Doug Farrar

Anyone who watched the Big 12 championship and saw Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh wreak utter havoc in Texas' backfield, treating the Longhorns' offensive line as a subordinate factor, had to know that they were seeing something special. It's not often that an interior lineman of any stripe takes over a game as completely as Suh did, but he's been playing at a freakish level all season. The Nagurski Award winner finished his senior campaign with 12 sacks, 23 tackles for a loss, 10 pass breakups and 3 blocked kicks -- breaking double or triple teams on almost every play -- and leaving analysts gasping for adjectives.

Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com, not a guy prone to overstatement when it comes to pro prospects, made it simple when I asked him what Suh has to offer: He's the best. "Because of the ability to simultaneously take up blockers, stuff the run and collapse the pocket directly in front of the quarterback, the defensive tackle position has always been one of the game's most important positions. As such, teams have long been willing to invest high picks on college prospects who flash the skills necessary to dominate at the point of attack. Gambling on potential has therefore led to defensive tackle being one of the NFL's riskiest positions to select on draft day."

"What makes Suh so rare is not that he has the physical attributes -- size, strength, agility, explosiveness -- teams are looking for at the position. It is instead that that he combines these physical skills with the attributes even more critical to success in the NFL: technique, passion and durability. It is what makes Suh the prohibitive favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft."

You'll be able to see him as a 'Husker one more time, facing Arizona in the Holiday Bowl. Then, Ndamukong Suh (the name means "House of Spears" in the language of the Ngema tribe in Cameroon, where his father is from) will hit the pre-draft wires and prepare to amaze at the next level. Having studied him intently for the first time for this article, I can't wait to see him take on center-guard combos on the NFL. At this point, he's tearing college lines to bits.

Iowa State 9 at Nebraska 7
October 24, 2009

It was easy to see the effect of Suh's presence on a first-and-10 with Iowa State at their own 33 and less than two minutes left in the first quarter. At the snap, Suh crashed inside from left defensive tackle and was triple-teamed as nickelback Eric Hagg flushed quarterback Jerome Tiller out of the pocket. Hagg just missed a sack as Tiller threw it away. The triple team was partially intentional, but Suh caused it to a point by pushing right guard Ben Lamaak into running back Jeremiah Schwartz, and right tackle Scott Haughton followed Lamaak into the scrum.

Two plays later, Iowa State had third-and-11, and Suh went to work. He twisted outside left as the Huskers went with the double A-gap blitz, then reversed field as Tiller bailed and ran upfield. Lamaak tried to stop him from coming back inside, but Suh treated the guard as a minor annoyance, pushing him out of the way with one hand and closing in on Tiller. Suh flashed amazing speed and strength on this play, finishing things off by throwing Tiller to the ground like the proverbial rag doll.

Iowa State's next drive began with 11:14 left in the first half, and Suh complicated things all the way. After a holding penalty on left tackle Kelechi Osemele put the Cyclones first-and-20 at their own 18, Suh sifted past Lamaak and center Reggie Stephens with two awesome rip moves -- the first to separate Lamaak from the line, and the second to get Stephens out of the way. Hurried again, Tiller rolled right just out of Suh's reach and threw it away. The blockers were little more than padded dummies on a rip drill. On the next play, Tiller got a pass off to receiver Josh Lenz on a quick screen inside the left hashmark. Suh, who was already past his blocker (Lamaak was letting him through to hit the second level), reversed his field and caught up to Lenz, who's been timed with a 4.56-second 40, fifteen yards downfield. Suh may be built like a tackle, but his pursuit speed has to be seen to be believed -- he closes in on space like a really big linebacker.

The Cyclones got their only touchdown of the game as a result of the next two plays -- a 20-yard fake punt run, and a 47-yard touchdown pass from Tiller to receiver Jake Williams -- and Suh blocked the extra point. On the touchdown, Tiller took a zone read right while Suh was double down-blocked inside. He finished the Iowa State game with two blocks (a field goal as well), six solo tackles, a sack, three quarterback hurries, and whole lot of disruption that didn't show up on the stat sheet. Halfway through the 2009 season, Suh was starting to look like Superman. Did anyone have Kryptonite?

Nebraska 31 at Kansas 17
November 14, 2009

Suh experienced a brief downturn in 2009, failing to register a sack or tackle for loss against Oklahoma on November 7 and Kansas on the 14th. Nebraska won both games, but Suh knew that more was expected of him. Bo Pelini assured his best defensive player that the schemes arrayed against him were a sign of respect. "He thinks he should make plays no matter how many guys are on him, and he has for the most part," the Nebraska coach told the Associated Press after the Kansas game. "It’s been a tough row to hoe for him, especially this last week. I sensed a little bit of frustration on him after the game because he didn’t feel like he played well, but when you look at the film, he played well." Suh gave himself an "F" grade after Kansas, though I think this was more about how the game plan went against him.

The Jayhawks played keep-away from Suh, using quarterback draws away from him after he collapsed the pocket, and employing quick throws to avoid Nebraska's penetration. Suh still ended Kansas' first drive by bulling past right guard Jeff Spikes and hurrying quarterback Todd Reesing into an incompletion. On their second drive, Kansas trotted out the Pistol formation and doubled Suh on any play taking longer than a single second. Draws from the Pistol exploited Suh' furious pursuit, and he'd find himself on the outside looking in as a running back hit the seam. Kansas threw slide protection away from playside, leading the line that way, and getting the ball out as quickly as possible. With Suh as the right end in a 3-4 look, Nebraska ended Kansas' final first-quarter drive with a successful corner blitz from Prince Amukamara. Using quick impact blocks and fast-timed plays, Kansas kept Suh to two solo tackles, but the scheme against Nebraska's defense limited their options and had Reesing bailing out far too often. Kansas discovered that Suh isn't the only great defender on that roster.

The wider splits of the Texas Tech offensive line also limited Suh's ability to get penetration when the two teams played on October 17, and Suh had some caustic remarks after the Kansas game about "the cutesy stuff we see the majority of the time in our conference with spread offenses.” While he will see spread-style offenses in the NFL as those concepts continue to gain traction, spread-style blocking and quarterback lifespan don't mesh very well in the pros. In his final regular-season game, Suh threw all that frustration aside and put his stamp on the biggest stage he'd ever taken.

Nebraska 12 vs. Texas 13 (Cowboys Stadium)
December 5, 2009

The complete and total dominance of Suh's performance in this game was marked early -- Texas center Chris Hall got busted for a chop block on Suh on the first play of the game. Two plays later, end Pierre Allen deflected a Colt McCoy pass that was intercepted by Hagg. Texas' next drive ended with a three-and-out. With 9:12 left in the first quarter, the Longhorns set up for the third. From his own 23-yard line, McCoy took the shotgun snap, gave a little fake to running back Tre' Newton, and prepared to pass the ball as Newton headed outside right guard David Snow to double-team Suh. Suh simply pushed Newton out of the way with his left hand, and threw Snow to the ground with his right. All that was left was to take McCoy down with the help of fellow defensive tackle Jared Crick, a highly-regarded player in his own right. It was evident in the rip moves against Iowa State, but this play brought one of Suh's primary attributes into sharp focus -- his upper-body strength is astonishing. Two plays later, McCoy was picked off again, this time by cornerback Prince Amukamara.

His second sack came with 12:38 left in the first half, and the Longhorns facing third-and-2 from their own 41. Texas sent their entire protection fast to the right and McCoy rolled out behind it. Suh was held out of pursuit by the rolling Hall and Snow at first; then right tackle Kyle Hix shot out to the second level and gave Suh a really nice hand strike. This pushed Suh out to the 40-yard line, with McCoy at the 33 running right. Your average tackle would have been taken out of the play, but we've established that Suh is anything but "average." Off the hand-punch, Suh ran past Hix at an angle, turned on that incredible speed, and knocked McCoy out of bounds along with end Cameron Meredith at the Texas 35. For all his power going straight ahead and his agility in reverse, this play showed how tenacious Suh is when he's riding out a play to its logical (or illogical) end. It also showed, once again, just how effective he is when closing in on a ball carrier. When a guy this big can move this fast, good things tend to happen.

The third sack came with 43 seconds left in the half, and illustrated a very simple point. Single-blocking Mr. Suh is ... well ... not that smart. Hall cut inside and up to chip Crick and deal with any second-level rushers, but that left Suh one-on-one with right guard Michael Huey. No technical mumbo-jumbo here -- Suh just bulled Huey back and took McCoy down. Gave him a startling jolt at the snap, and rag-dolled him out of the way. That was unfair.

McCoy got it again on Texas' first drive of the second half. The 'Horns had second-and-23 at their own 24. At the snap, Hall angled right to help Huey with a combo block. Suh pushed Huey out of the Octagon with his left hand, and Hall's own momentum somehow kept him from getting a good plant to block. Suh simply ran around him. Perhaps bored with the ease with which he was now penetrating Texas' backfield, Suh took McCoy down with a half-body slam this time. McCoy handed off to Newton on third-and-30, and you got the sense that the offense just wanted to get off the field and regroup.

The final sack came on Texas' final, game-winning drive, one play after McCoy's 19-yard pass to Jordan Shipley was compounded by a 15-yard horse-collar call on linebacker Larry Asante. Suh fended off a double team to take McCoy down two yards behind the line of scrimmage as the quarterback tried to get upfield. McCoy got a one-yard gain on a keeper, bouncing to the left after Suh's attempt to break another double almost succeeded. Then, Texas' casual timekeeping, Suh all too close to sacking McCoy again, the throw out of bounds, and the review that took 20 years off Bo Pelini's life. With one second put back on the clock. Hunter Lawrence kicked the 46-yard field goal that gave Texas the Big 12.

Still, there could be no doubt whatsoever that Ndamukong Suh did everything possible to prevent that loss. four and a half sacks, 10 solo tackles, and seven tackles in the backfield. It was a virtuoso performance that capped Suh's great season and put him in the running to be the first predominantly defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy since Michigan's Charles Woodson in 1997. Some are already saying that any other choice for the award would be ridiculous. All I can say is that if the Heisman is meant to spotlight the best player in college football, I don't know how it can possibly go anywhere else.

To call a defensive player "unstoppable" or "unblockable" is generally the height of hyperbole. Different teams use different strategies to deal with elite defenders, and until we see a guy get 60 sacks/hits/hurries in one game, it's obviously best to look at an overall performance by a defensive lineman in the context of how difficult it is to keep him from consistently disrupting an opposing game plan. In that regard, Suh is sometimes, and always has the potential to be, as good as I've yet seen. The Richard Seymour and Warren Sapp comparisons are frequent and instructive, but I view Suh as more of a Joe Greene type, because of the terrifying mixture of line power and speed in space. Greene had a revolutionary agility that belied his size (especially in his era), and it was tough to believe when you saw strength and speed to those degrees in one player. We may now have the evolutionary version.

What I took away from this analysis is that Suh's speed will take him over the top at the next level. The inside moves and overall power are everything you'd expect from a guy with this much hype, but the ability to close on moving targets and extend pursuit from side to side are things you don't usually see from a 6-foot-4, 300-pound individual. He could play the nose in any Cover 2 variant (maybe even a Ratliff-style nose in a 3-4 -- I think the 3-4 end position would be too restrictive), but I really see him going crazy as a three-technique tackle in any 4-3, with others manning the point and Suh free to do everything from his supreme rip moves to spying ball carriers in short spaces. The NFL team that sets him up to employ his versatility might reap the greatest benefits of the 2010 draft.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 09 Dec 2009

59 comments, Last at 15 Dec 2009, 8:57pm by Mr Shush

Comments

1
by Jmagik (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:19pm

Nice article. I'm not a big NCAA fan, but that game was incredible and it was kind of sad to see the Huskers lose (though the sad part was the kickoff/horsecollar... personally I am glad the game didn't end on the McCoy throwaway, retarded clock management gets me a bit more than stupid penalties) since he really did "carry the team on his back" (something you often only hear applied to QBs...

Question: What's the over-under on jackass commentators trying to come up with some kind of alliteration between "Ndamukong" and "dominate"? I'm going with +130 by season's end. Captcha: landscape dumbness.

25
by BucNasty :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 6:59pm

How bout Donkey Kong?

58
by Doug Farrar :: Sat, 12/12/2009 - 12:44pm

Tom Rinaldi (cue the weepy music) just did it on Saturday AM Sportscenter, so that's one.

2
by Doug Farrar :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:32pm

+125 by Matt Millen alone.

3
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:00pm

Again, there were times in that game Saturday where I began to wonder, "At what SAT testing center was Nebraska able to get a grizzly bear past the proctor?" It really did look at times as if a impressive Ursus Arctos Horribilis speciman was swatting aside mildly irritating hounds.

5
by dmb :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:20pm

As impressive as Suh's performance may have been, I think I'd be more impressed by a grizzly getting a sufficient score on the SAT than by a human pulling off Suh's feats.

6
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:22pm

Well considering how Derrick Rose got his SAT score, I'm not sure it would impressive at all.

8
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:26pm

Precisely.

4
by James-London :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:20pm

So, if you're Cleveland, Tampa, St Louis or Detroit with the #1, do you take him or the kings ransom that might be available for a trade? (Assuming that St Louis or Cleveland don't take a QB).

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

9
by M :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:27pm

Is there any team that could reasonably offer enough to entice any of those teams? I think you'd be looking at a near-championship-level team with an extra #1 pick, willing to spare a #2 or multiple lower draft picks, and looking for a dominant defensive player to get them over the top.

San Francisco & Seattle both have two #1 picks next year; if I were SF's GM, I would definitely make that trade. If St. Louis picks #1, I doubt they trade down within their division, though.

New England has only one #1 pick next year, but THREE #2 picks. This smells like a situation the hooded genius would try to exploit. Would St. Louis do it for a #1 and three #2 picks?

15
by White Rose Duelist :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:50pm

The Patriots could also package the #1 pick in the 2011 draft, which should be pretty high (sorry, Raiderjoe), if they want to move up and take Suh. This year's and one of next year's #1s and two of this year's #2s would be a great boon for a struggling team, and New England would still pick in both rounds both years.

40
by James-London :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 10:39pm

This years #1, two of this tears #2's and a #1 next year? I'd take that more or less immediately. Unless you have a cast-iron guarentee that this kid is the second coming of Joe Greene and WILL be wearing a yellow jacket in 20 years time, then 4 picks that high is too good to turn down.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

27
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 7:24pm

"Would St. Louis do it for a #1 and three #2 picks?"

I read that as "What would St Louis do with a #1 pick and 3 #2 picks?". Sadly my instant thought was "waste them".

As things stand I'd love to see the Rams take Suh, even if he might be a bit of a luxury, given that Gary Gibson looked decent before he got hurt, CJ Ah You ditto, we have Carriker coming back from IR and Clifton Ryan has looked decent this year. That being said, Spags loves D-linemen, and if he can be a Warren Sapp type player you'd be a fool to say no to him.

13
by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:39pm

Wow. Cleveland could be unstoppable in the middle with Shaun Rogers and Suh. Too bad Mangini wouldn't have a clue how to use such a combo. He would probably force them to play to their weaknesses in "his system."

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

14
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:42pm

It would be really dumb to pick a qb this year, while Suh is available. Of course, that means there is a decent chance it will happen. In 20 years, as Suh is being fitted for an ugly yellow blazer (no, it isn't close to a sure thing, but it ain't wildly unrealistic, either) who is it most likely to be referred to as "The meathead who passed on The Man Named Suh, to draft a qb who never learned to read NFL defenses quickly enough?"

18
by Flounder :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:26pm

Nooooooo Tebow #1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I mean, he wears bible verses on his eye black and cries like a little girl. If that doesn't scream "ready to lead an NFL offense" I don't know what does ;)

32
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 8:49pm

he wears bible verses on his eye black . . . while playing indoors and/or at night, circumstances under which sun glare is a notorious problem.

17
by Tampa Bay Mike (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:16pm

Any team has to take Suh. A dominant, pocket collapsing, run stopping DT has to be at least as important as a good QB. Nothing reduces the opposing QB's performance more than the pocket collapsing from directly in front of him.

19
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 6:08pm

If the team that drafts him can get a get a good pass rusher to put on the edge, and is reasonably well coached, the foundation has been laid for multiple double digit win seasons.

20
by Joe :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 6:20pm

NOTHING is as important as a good QB. The best DT in the history of the league did not impact his team's chance of winning as much as his QB. It is impossible to overstate the importance of quality QB play at the professional level.

23
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 6:53pm

Well, no, that really isn't true. The 1974 Steelers could have had as good a chance to win the Super Bowl with as many as 10 different qbs who were in the league at that time. Maybe more. Bradshaw was not a HOF quality qb by then. There was not anywhere close to ten defensive tackles who would have given the Steelers as good a chance to win the Super Bowl as Joe Greene did. To sub a different defensive position, thought to be less critical than defensive tackle, a similar argument holds for Ray Lewis vs. Trent Dilfer. It is possible to overstate the value of anything, and in fact the assertion you made is a large overstatement.

Throw in the fact that one can be much more certain of Suh's dominance at the pro level, compared to any of the qbs coming out this year, and Suh really is the only intelligent choice for the top pick.

31
by Joe :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 8:47pm

No. If there is a chance that any of the QBs will be pro bowl caliber, he will have much greater impact on his team's winning over a HOF level DT. There's a lot of play in there with respect to the fact that we don't actually know how each player will pan out, but a great DT is nowhere near as valuable as a great QB.

Just look at the draft pick compensation for Jay Cutler vs. Jared Allen - Cutler was worth Kyle Orton + an extra 1st round pick over what Allen was worth.

Or look at how a betting line moves when the QB is out vs. when a key player on defense is injured.

This is not even an argument.

34
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 9:06pm

Agreed, but the bust potential of QBs make them inherently more risky picks. And if you get it wrong at QB, you set your franchise back 5 years (because of the positional importance that you cite). Granted, there are plenty of DT busts, for the reasons described in Doug's article.

And, subjectively, I am far more optimistic about Suh's chances of NFL greatness than I am by any of this year's highly touted, highly suspect quarterback class (although I have barely seen Jake Locker play).

I don't disagree with your overall point about positional value, but with a high pick with which I cannot afford to miss, it would take a really impressive combination of workout/combine/Senior Bowl/film study to cause me to select one of the quarterbacks over Suh.

54
by AnonymousCats (not verified) :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 7:05am

I wonder how Dan Wilkinson compared in college to Suh. He was pretty much a bust as the #1 draft pick. Or Steve Emtman. I think Wilkinson had even more amazing numbers in terms of workout warrior. Emtman? I think he was also as quick as Suh.

So there's no such thing as a sure thing. Both those guys were big busts.

56
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 7:00pm

Well, there have been numerous busts at DT, which is both acknowledged and explained in Doug's article. Based strictly on my eyeballs and memory, Wilkinson was not nearly the college player that Suh has been.

You are right; there are no sure things. Then again, I never said Suh or anybody else is a sure thing, so I'm not sure why you were compelled to make the point.

37
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 9:44pm

By this logic, the Bucs in 1995 made a grave error in drafting Warren Sapp, and then Derrick Brooks in the first round, instead of taking Todd Collins, who the Bills took in the 2nd. After all, there was a chance that Collins would be a Pro Bowler, and they could not know yet whether Dilfer would be one.

42
by Eddo :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 10:52am

Can we get an "Irrational Intrinsic QB Value vs. Other Positions" thread, so it stops coming up in every single other thread on the site, please?

28
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 7:26pm

Last year's Titans disagree!

Note: I know this is a ridiculous oversimplification.

If you have a great QB yes, that is going to guarantee your team is always in with a shout (see Manning, Peyton), but if there isn't one of them available and there is a defender who can dictate what the other team can do I think that's a no brainer.

33
by Joe :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 8:51pm

Certainly if your scouting grades out that the DT will be dominant but the QBs will be mediocre, the DT is a better selection.

That is not the same thing as saying that a a good DT is as valuable as a good QB. A good (top 10) QB is more valuable than the best DT in the league, and it's not even close. The DT just doesn't have enough opportunities to make an impact compared to the QB.

35
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 9:14pm

Well, since I never asserted that a good dt was as valuable as a good qb, you appear to be arguing with a participant in this thread who does not exist. That argument doesn't have much to do with whether Suh should be drafted number one.

Look, you are overstating things once again. There was a "chance", after all, that the every qn drafted last, in the last 25 drafts, would be a Pro Bowl caliber qb. By your logic, every team which did not already have a Pro Bowl caliber qb made a mistake by not drafting that qb, or another qb, in the first round.

38
by Nick Higgins (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 10:09pm

As a Tampa Bay fan, they had better take Suh (and I think they would). It's hard to imagine any trade package that could help the TB defense more than the second coming of Warren Sapp.

55
by Anonymous Coward (not verified) :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 1:56pm

Dungy took Sapp in one of his first drafts and Lovie took Harris in one of his first drafts. Could be coincendence or it could be that that coaching tree believes the inside pressue is a key to fielding an elite cover 2 D.

What I'm trying to say is I think Morris would push for Suh over anyone else available, they're not going to go for another QB...

57
by BucNasty :: Sat, 12/12/2009 - 12:27pm

Sam Wyche was actually the guy that drafted Sapp (plus Brooks and Lynch), though Dungy took Booger McFarland 15th overall to eventually replace him, showing a dedication to inside pressure even if he didn't work out. Anyone who follows the Bucs should've known since the season started that we will be taking some sort of D-Lineman with our first pick. I had hoped we'd trade down a spot or two, since this was supposed to be a quarterback draft. However, if Suh is everything you guys say he is then I have no problem taking him 1st overall, if that's where we end up.

7
by Matt Millen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:24pm

Bah, I'm taking Julius Jones or Dez Bryant

10
by Joseph :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:33pm

Matt, good thing you're not a GM anymore. That would be JULIO Jones from Alabama you're wanting.

11
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:33pm

In 1969, the Steelers selected Joe Greene, who soon became the foundation for their outstanding teams of the 70's. They continued to be bad his first year, and were able to select first in 1970, taking Terry Bradshaw. A bad team with a little patience could follow that same model and improve dramatically. If I were making the decisions for the team with the first pick, I'd have to get a truly amazing offer to consider trading it. New England's #1 and three #2's wouldn't do it, for instance.

12
by rageon :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:34pm

I'm not a huge college football guy, so maybe I'm missing something -- but didn't people used to talk about Glenn Dorsey this way?

21
by Joe :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 6:22pm

Yes.

22
by Still Alive (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 6:45pm

They talk about every guy this way. Every 2nd year there is a player that comes around only every 30 years...

24
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 6:58pm

Yes, and sometimes the statement is true. Yes, the NFL draft is filled with ridiculous hype. No, that doesn't mean it is impossible for some players to be accurately identified as being far more likely than other first round picks to be historically great players.

16
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:01pm

I saw Dorsey play a fair amount, and he never had either the speed, enormous strength, or endurance of Suh. Not even close.

39
by Xeynon (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 10:37pm

Another thing to keep in mind is that Dorsey played for a team that consistently turns out high first round picks on the defensive line (Marcus Spears, Tyson Jackson, etc.) and was surrounded by far better talent than Suh is. It's a lot easier to be a dominant college player when your teammates are also capable of beating double teams.

I haven't seen that much of Suh, but from what I have seen he looks like the most dominant interior DL in the college game since Warren Sapp. If I had the first pick in the next draft, and a need at DT, there's no way I wouldn't sit pat and take him.

26
by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 7:00pm

As a student at Arizona, I can't tell you just how much I fear for my team's quarterback and O-line having to deal with this menace in the Holiday Bowl. I've never seen a man that big move that fast.

29
by slipknottin :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 7:54pm

Dorsey and Ellis were dominant players in college. Neither was anywhere close to being as dominant as Suh.

That being said, Dorsey is also making a transition to a 3-4 DE, which isnt utilizing his strengths at all, he was a penetrating DT. Ellis much the same was having a good year for the saints.

30
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 8:02pm

Tim Krumrie blew up Big Ten offensive lines in this manner in 1981 before being constantly triple teamed in 1982. NFL teams were disappointed in the lack of production and Krumrie lasted until the 10th(!!!) round in the draft. The Packers were so unimpressed they drafted a former basketball player in the 7th round.

Krumrie showed up at Bengals camp and proceeded to beat the living bejeezus out of Outland Trophy winner center Dave Rimington. Krumrie took over nose tackle, was a Pro Bowler and then had his career cut short by that ugly broken leg in the 1989 Super Bowl. He came back but was never the same.

Enough Badger nostalgia.

Suh is a great player and as has been stated worthy of the praise. Most of the other guys who get this treatment are just big fat guys who overwhelm weaker competition a la Dan Wilkinson.

36
by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 9:25pm

The idea of having a guy like Suh in the middle with Freeney and Mathis on the edges just makes this little Colts fan's heart skip a beat.

Whatever team gets him will, hopefully, be smart enough to use him the right way.

41
by Sifter :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 1:31am

Well looking at the playoff odds page, the top 4 pickers in this draft are projected as:
1. Rams
2. Bucs
3. Browns
4. Lions

Bucs would LOVE to get a dominant DT as that is arguably their weakest position already. Lions would love to get Suh too. Browns would like a dominant DL, but playing a 3-4, maybe not so much. And the Rams might be preoccupied with finding a QB and working on the young DT talent they already have as Podge pointed out - Carriker, Ah You, Gibson, Ryan. Dorell Scott looked good the other week too.

So if the Rams fall in love with Sam Bradford/Jimmy Clausen/Jake Locker, maybe they DO pass on Suh. But it would be a brave move by the sound of this article.

And for the Bucs, there's always Gerald McCoy at DT if the Rams take Suh.

43
by skersfan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 4:53pm

I have been a Nebraska fan for over 50 years. I have seen the best Nebraska has brought to the table for as long as I can remember.

There has never been a defensive player at Nebraska as dominant. So fast, so athletic, drops into coverage, destroys double and triple teams, never slows, a motor that runs red line every single play.

I do not follow pro football at all, but I will tell you this. Who ever gets Suh and plays him the right way will see something they have never seen before.

He is not fat, like Sapp. He is the most athletic DT I have ever seen.

Graduates with honors, and a work eithic beyond.

I only wish he had another year at Nebraska. He has been the most exciting defensive player I have ever seen.

I will most likely start following who ever he ends up with. He is simply amazing to watch.

44
by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 6:16pm

Washington ought to trade up. A DL of Orakpo/Haynesworth/Suh/some free agent Snyder overpays (Peppers!) would be pretty money.

45
by skersfan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 7:04pm

Here are some interesting stats:

Bama #1 defense

Defensive line stats:

98 tkl 23.5 tfl 9.5 sac 20 qbh 5 pbu 0 int 1 ff 3 blk

Suh's stats

82 tkl 23 tfl 12 sac 24 qbh 10 pbu 1 int 1 ff 3 blk

His statts are on line with all top five teams in the BCS.

Simply amazing.

46
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 7:47pm

What is your source for these stats?

47
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 8:50pm

Nadmakung Suh gogin to be gerat DT in league for long while in stay healthy. Last time college prosoepect look this good was when Jamarcus Russell come out. Both huge phrysical guys, big mammmoths. Of course Russell and Suh play diffenrtn positions and Qb harder to learn than DT. Taking Russell a few seasaons but going to be greta one. Suh might take two years to learn game well. Other guy who got talked up all time was Amokia Okoye now with Houston Texnas. Media and draft people used to say he going to be all time great but you dont hear much about him anymnore.

51
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 11:37pm

Joe, nobody respects you more than me. But comparing Jamarcus Russell to Suh is like comparing the Sham Wow guy to George Clooney. Sure, they have one thing in common: they are each taller than you and I. Suh dominated the college game like nobody in recent memory; Russell was, at best, an intriguing prospect. Mark my words: withing two seasons, you will be posting that Russell is a bum and a fraud.

Respectully,

BroncosGuy

59
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 12/15/2009 - 8:57pm

Okoye's been fairly decent (though certainly nothing more) to date; however, you've got to remember that he's still only 22 - he's actually 6 months younger than Suh. It's way too early to call him a bust.

48
by matt634 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 10:06pm

"What is your source for these stats?"

Pretty sure I'm the source of those stats. I complied and posted them on a Husker board. I combined the season statistics for the top four defensive linemen of Bama, Texas, and Florida as posted on each school's respective website. Then, I compared the top four of each team to just Suh. You saw the result.

49
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 10:56pm

Interestingly Scouts Inc and Nolan Nawrocki on PFW both have Gerald McCoy rated higher than Suh.

Wasn't the Johnny Cash song called 'Boy named Sue' and surely the most appropraite nickname would be Suhperman.

50
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 11:12pm

Dude, drop your gloves for a minute. I'm only interested in reliable sources of college stats. It appears you compiled yours (or "complied" them if you are a bugeater ;)) from team websites, which are notoriously unreliable. Understand, I am only looking for reliable sources of college statistics, not arguing with your conclusion. Suh is an exceptional player (please see posts above).

52
by c_f (not verified) :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 1:59am

This article reminds me of a Chris Brown piece on Jerry Rice's domination of I-AA football; both Rice and Suh dominated the college game so much that they had to be double- or triple-teamed on pretty much every snap. Obviously the DT vs WR difference is huge, but it lead to interesting schematic consequences with Rice:

http://smartfootball.blogspot.com/2009/04/archie-cooley-jerry-rice-and-s...

53
by utvikefan (not verified) :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 2:06am

I have never seen something like Suh. WOW. I am sure the BCS commanders called in to order that one second on the clock. Their world would have been in shambles other wise. Luckily, Tim Donaghy was on the time clock, WHEW! No money or anything on this game. If Texas wins, the second best team in Texas is the national champs! Yay! And Suh? Pffft, he is NOT on the national voting champ team. So obviously, he plays D, and will not win the Heisman. National Champ is a popularity campaign/homecoming queen, and so is the Heisman. He will not win it, but oh so should. I LOVE NCAA basketball, NOT the Pro's. I like the NFL FAR, FAR, FAR more than college football. And I have just realized why.

The college BASKETBALL teams will give it all to go to the championship. If your USC or LSU or one of the chosen....its handed to you. LOL, did USC finally get out of the top 25 with their like 19th conference loss? nah, couldn't happen.

BTW, GREAT, GREAT article. Keep more like this coming. You guys are top notch reads on the web.